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Beat Down Babylon (The Upsetter Years)

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Though he never achieved the fame of his peers, Junior Byles remains one of the great underappreciated singers in Jamaican history. Beat Down Babylon collects Byles’ work between 1970 and 1976, while he was in close collaboration with the eccentric-yet-brilliant producer Lee “The Upsetter” Perry. The collection captures the major transition in Perry’s career, from his early, straightforward work with the Wailers to his subsequent experiments in dark dub at his hallowed studio The Black Ark. Byles and Perry proved a perfect match, and their relationship produced a number of immortal songs. “(Festival) Da Da” is the kind of reggae that anyone from age 5 to age 55 can feel, while Rastafarian resistance anthem “Beat Down Babylon” shows just how powerful a simple message can be. Though Byles was as talented as Marley when it came to relating universal messages, his signature “Curly Locks” is one of the most intimate reggae songs ever written. A Romeo and Juliet tragedy transposed to Kingston, the song is about a man whose love is kept from his because of his Rastafarian appearance. Included here with its dub version, the song is a sublime synthesis of song, singer and producer.


Born: 1948 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

One of Jamaica's most tragic figures, Junior Byles was also one of the island's greatest root stars. His vocals were quite unique, and although his soft, almost husky voice would never ring from the rafters nor give voice to anger, the gentle timbre still expressed deep emotions. His was the voice of the meek and was all the stronger for it. The closest comparison is perhaps with the vulnerable tones of Slim Smith, but while the former Unique made his mark with love songs, Byles would speak not for...
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Beat Down Babylon (The Upsetter Years), Junior Byles
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, Dub
  • Released: Dec 09, 1996

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